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National Velvet (1935)

by Enid Bagnold

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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2,422216,441 (3.77)81
A fourteen-year-old English girl wins a horse in a raffle, trains it, and rides it in the Grand National steeplechase.
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Showing 1-5 of 21 (next | show all)
A butcher's daughter in a small Sussex town ends her nightly prayers with "Oh, God, give me horses, give me horses! Let me be the best rider in England!" The answer to 14-year-old Velvet Brown's plea materializes in the form of an unwanted piebald, raffled off in a village lottery, who turns out to be adept at jumping fences--exactly the sort of horse that could win the world's most famous steeplechase, the Grand National.
Richly atmospheric of rural life in England between the World Wars, National Velvet has enchanted generations of readers since its 1935 debut. The heroine's grit and determination, backed by the support of her eccentric and loving family, offer an inspiring example of the struggles and rewards of following a dream. ( )
  LynneQuan | Jul 12, 2024 |
A butcher's daughter in a small Sussex town ends her nightly prayers with "Oh, God, give me horses, give me horses! Let me be the best rider in England!" The answer to fourteen-year-old Velvet Brown's plea materializes in the form of an unwanted piebald, raffled off in a village lottery, who turns out to be adept at jumping fences--exactly the sort of horse that could win the world's most famous steeplechase, the Grand National.
  PlumfieldCH | May 7, 2024 |
I first read this book as a child and loved Velvet's story. I loved the fragments I could understand, anyway, because the story contains foods, events, and household items that were entirely foreign to a child in 1970's Texas. Even after all these years of enjoying British fiction, there's still a few things I'm puzzled about, because I really don't have any context for what would be considered normal vs eccentric in 1920's rural Sussex. And why the horror of wearing muslins to the gymkhana? What are muslins? I know it's a fabric, but the book treats it as a hated garment the girls are made to wear. Was it an especially ugly dress? Donald is obviously a precocious and mightily spoiled child, but is his spit bottle within the range of normal little boy things for that time? I don't know. I might never know. At least I now know what treacle is, and can google all the other terms. Thank god for google.

Listening to this on audio now as an adult, there's so much more to this story that I can appreciate. The prose is a treat, the family is enchanting, with such distinct and unique personalities, and I understand both Velvet and her mother much better.
( )
  Doodlebug34 | Jan 1, 2024 |
A butcher's daughter in a small Sussex town ends her nightly prayers with "Oh, God, give me horses, give me horses! Let me be the best rider in England!" The answer to fourteen-year-old Velvet Brown's plea materializes in the form of an unwanted piebald, raffled off in a village lottery, who turns out to be adept at jumping fences--exactly the sort of horse that could win the world's most famous steeplechase, the Grand National.
  PlumfieldCH | Dec 12, 2023 |
How did I get so far along life's path without having read this? I do not know. I have owned a copy of it for nearly ever. I do know I'm glad to have fallen in with Velvet and her remarkable family, including The Piebald and Mi(chael) Taylor, at long last. I didn't even know much of the story, other than it involved a girl and a horse and (I assumed) a race. So I find it actually involves a sickly, unattractive 14-year-old girl with an early version of braces (which she can remove when they get terribly uncomfortable); a recalcitrant, probably ill-bred horse; a once-famous mother who in her youth swam the English Channel against all odds; and that iconic steeplechase, the Grand National. If, like me, you had a picture of Velvet as the young and stunning Elizabeth Taylor astride a thoroughbred in your mind, you're forgiven for making that face you're making now. I've never seen the movie either (was Mickey Rooney her "trainer"?---that's quite wrong too) and I can't decide whether I want to. In any case, the story on the page is a dandy, there's next-to-no sentimentality to it, Velvet's mother is perfection, and her little brother is a hoot. I read one of Enid Bagnold's adult novels many years ago, and enjoyed it, although I found it just a bit overwrought in spots. Still, the characters in that one were very crisp around the edges, and the same is true here. No one blends into the background. The dialog is so realistic I had a little trouble with it at first (not being a denizen of rural England in the mid-1930's) but I soon caught on. Excellent illustrations in my book club edition from 1958. Highly recommended. ( )
  laytonwoman3rd | Nov 12, 2021 |
Showing 1-5 of 21 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (1 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Bagnold, EnidAuthorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Brown, PaulIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Brulé, AlIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Jones, LaurianIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lewin, TedIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Seaton, WalterIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Winslow, Earle B.Illustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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To Roderick and Laurian
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Unearthly humps of land curved into the darkening sky like the backs of browsing pigs, like the rumps of elephants.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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A fourteen-year-old English girl wins a horse in a raffle, trains it, and rides it in the Grand National steeplechase.

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Fourteen-year-old Velvet Brown, the daughter of a butcher in a small Sussex town between the World Wars, is the ugly sister among four beauties. She is horse mad and ends her nightly prayers with "Oh, God, give me horses, give me horses! Let me be the best rider in England!" When she wins a piebald horse in a raffle, she knows the horse is something special. His heart is as big as the five-foot fences he jumps, and he'll do anything for Velvet. Velvet is determined to turn Pie, the unruly horse, into a champion and personally ride him to victory in the world's greatest steeplechase. But can a girl win the Grand National? Velvet soon learns that it will take more than hard work and dedication to achieve her goal -- she will also need love, courage, and the magical power of childhood dreams. She and her friend Mi, the assistant in her dad's butcher shop, hatch a plan to enter Velvet and the Pie in the Grand National.
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